After spending the weekend at a horse show, I suddenly realized that anime cons and horse shows have a lot in common. Far fetched though it may sound, here’s proof beyond a doubt that equestrians and otakus have more in common than first meets the eye.
Cos-play – Just as anime fans feel the need to celebrate their favorite series by spending hours crafting the perfect costume, cos-play abounds at horse shows. I’m mystified as to why it’s necessary to dress up like fox hunters or plantation owners in order to ride a horse, but it’s generally required to wear these outlandish costumes in order to participate in the festivities. Driving classes demand fussing up in dresses, which makes about as much sense as wearing flip-flops to either show. Besides getting nasty blisters walking around the dealer hall at a con, who knows what you’ll step in at a horse show.
Gender bending – Gender bending doesn’t only exist in manga! Check out the local saddleseat show for proof that it happily exists in real life. Look at all of those women decked out in their Sunday finest. Wait, why are they all wearing suits? And ties? Like many an anime series, this ritual makes little sense, but it sure gives you a feeling superiority knowing that your Double Windsor looks so much neater than everybody else’s!
Really bad expensive food – This is another reason to eat a healthy breakfast. Like you’ll find at anime conventions, the food at horse shows is over-priced, and just plain bad for you. Full of empty calories and not especially appetizing, the day is much too hectic to strike off in search of cheaper, better options. Trapped at the fairgrounds, or the convention center, you’re a sitting duck for the greedy food vendors.
Lack of sleep – Trying to catch another anime episode or hit that late night panel? Horse shows are jam packed with too many activities as well. Getting up at 5:30 in the morning to help wash tails or braid manes, the day is just crammed with too much to do! Even after the last class of the evening, there are still horses to be worked into the wee hours of the night. Catching a catnap while waiting around soon becomes a necessary art at both events.
Constant schedule changes – Just missed that panel on cel collecting because of an unexpected schedule change? Did the arcade not open until two hours after the official posted time? Just like the frustration at anime cons, the printed schedule at the horse show is just about worthless. Class run over because a horse threw a shoe? Was there a hold between classes because of a necessary equipment change? These unexpected schedule delays at anime cons and horse shows are one of the major reasons that we are forced to eat the really bad expensive food! You’re taking a gamble if you count on the schedule running smoothly and try to actually make plans around it.
The need for soap – And you thought only otakus needed to be reminded to shower! While most participants at the horse show do start the day off with a liberal application of soap, wearing a three piece suit in 90 degree weather soon makes that shower a distant memory. Since many of us only have one costume, we are stuck wearing that smelly thing the entire horse show. Phew!
Well, there you have it. Anime conventions and horse shows are just flip sides of each other. Can’t make it to a major con this year? Don’t worry! Just trot over to the local horse show! Just don’t wear your flip flops!